Karen Peterson

Karen Peterson: TNT remakes Sunday features section to meet reader needs

Inside today’s newspaper, you’ll find a new section. If you’re a longtime reader of The News Tribune, you might even consider it an old section.

SoundLife.

It’s a section about living in the South Sound, ideally serving as a guide to living even better in the South Sound. That’s our hope.

For the past several years, our Sunday features section has been called Adventure and focused solely on outdoor recreation.

Starting today, we’re mixing it up a bit.

We’ll still have substantial space for recreational topics such as hiking, fishing, biking and skiing.

We’re also moving stories about home fix-ups, gardening and food from the Wednesday features section to Sunday, when people have more time to enjoy them.

We’ve discontinued the Wednesday section.

Why make the Sunday changes?

A few reasons. First, we’ve been researching which topics our readers care most about.

We conducted an email survey in Pierce County that you might have been a part of. And we tracked how many people read each story topic, how long they spend reading and how frequently they share stories with friends.

Some outdoor recreation coverage did quite well in our research; some did not.

We’ve kept the most popular features, including the larger stories about how and where to recreate in the Northwest (like today’s piece on how to burn 1,500 calories before eating one of the area’s best hamburgers). We pared down the rest.

We also conducted a virtual focus group, interviewing a dozen local people of various ages, genders, races and hometowns about how they spend their weekends.

For most people, Saturday is a day of running errands and being active; Sunday is a day of relaxation and planning for the week ahead.

We built a Sunday section we thought would appeal to those people.

“Our new Sunday section will be a mix of the topics of highest interest to our readers and play to the strengths of our staff,” said features editor Jeffrey P. Mayor.

“We’re also going to write more stories about the people who live, work and play in the South Sound. We want this section to reflect the people of the South Sound and help them plan their week, create menu ideas, decide where they want to recreate and pick up some gardening ideas.”

Alongside the cover story, the front of SoundLife will feature a local columnist – either Adventure writer Craig Hill or gardening expert Marianne Binetti.

We’ve also started a new calendar called “Plan Your Week” with events for the week ahead.

Inside you’ll find a dedicated Adventure page, which includes our Gear feature describing a new gadget or piece of recreational equipment.

And we’ll spotlight local folks in the new Adventurers of the Week. (Nominate yourself or another adventurer by emailing: craig.hill@thenewstribune.com.)

We’ve reserved a full Home & Garden page, which will include a calendar of coming events.

And we’ve saved the back page for Food & Drink, (that way the recipe photos can appear in full color) because Sunday is a day when many of us find time to cook.

We’re also running the Great Northwest Wine column on that page.

As a result of changes in Sunday’s section, we changed the Adventure content lineup in Friday’s GO section.

The GO Adventure page will feature a local Trail of the Week, and “On the Road,” which features an event or destination for those who prefer to leave the hiking boots at home.

Finally, the page will include the calendar of outdoor events.

These changes are the first of several we’ll roll out over the next few months as we respond to changing reader preferences.

On Tuesday, we’ll introduce our new daily Business page. We’ve designed a new display for daily market and commodity reports.

And we’ll run a new feature at the top of the page called Sound Money. It will offer consumer tips on topics such as mortgages, travel, credit and shopping.

The latter is a direct response to readers who said they are hungry for more stories about how to live better in the local economy.

In coming weeks, we will rename our Sunday business section Sound Money and focus our stories on that topic.

Columnists Chuck Jaffe, Tom Philpott and Gary Brooks will move from the daily pages into the Sunday section, along with our money rates and key rates charts.

To make room, we will eliminate one of the two formatted inside pages that we’ve run since The Wall Street Journal discontinued its popular Sunday pages.

We’d love your input on which page you’d rather keep — the first page with short consumer stories or the second page of market analysis. Email our business editor at: debbie.cockrell@thenewstribune.com to share your thoughts.

Also, the Dilbert cartoon will move from the daily business page to the comics page, where it will replace For Better or For Worse. The latter hasn’t had a new strip since it began recycling old ones in 2008.

Try out the new offerings, then send us a note and let us know what you think.

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